Inspite of having three fat disorders ( lipedema , lymphedema and Dercum’s disease ) that are progressive in how large they can make a person appear, and have zero to do with calorie intake or exercise…I have managed in the past 10 months to do this.
What is important to point out is that having had these disorders all my life, my hips and legs were always larger than the rest of me. One leg has always been larger than the other. My arms became heavy and large over the years. My stomach, arms, neck, back, hips and legs filled with Dercum’s Disease “tumors”. Lipedema and lymphedema causes swellings that would increase at the drop of a dime. I could put on 12 pounds from these lymphatic fluids in a day or two. I could start off the day at one level and end the day looking 20 pounds heavier just by moving around.
So look at these photos and see that now my hips are in proportion to the rest of my body, my arms have slimmed down, my face has deflated, my torso is smaller. My legs are within reasonable limits. One leg is stil slightly larger than the other, but not overly noticeable. I went from a size 32 to a size 14.
Throw in the use of a box of Miss Clairol for my hair and bam! I look so different! Another thing that this style of whole food plant based, low fat, low glycemic eating has done for me is whip my diabetes, my blood pressure, my cholesterol in shape. That happened in the first month of switching for KETO to this style of eating. So I likely have added years to my life.
Here are the foods that made it all happen.
Bean Steak On Rye w/Kale
Cucumber Carrot Citrus Salad
Busy day? Black beans on greens with melon
Hummus Topped Veggie Burger On Greens With Citrus
Dr. Greger’s inscription after hearing of my success treating lipedema, Dercum’s disease using his suggestions for. Plant-based diet.
In the group for Improving Fat Disorders Using Low Fat Low Glycemic WFPB Eating, no one associated with the group makes a dime off of any participant of the group and you are asked to work with your own doctor and make sure your own medical team is on board, get blood levels done on a regular basis, and other measures to assure you are taking responsibility for your own health decisions.
It’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy. If looking smaller ends up being part of it all, then great.
Here is a link to an article I wrote last year on how to approach changing your life with food.
We keep a large container of deep colored greens, cruciferous, root veggies plus other veggies and mushrooms in the fridge. I make a fresh salad to keep at my disposal every 2-3 days. It’s just so easy to dish it out and eat it when busy.
So the trend of Breakfast Salads is right up my ally. The concept is to take the nutrition of the fiber and all those fresh vitamins and minerals and breakfast-fy them. Here is a way to add in some protein that may make whole food plant based protein sources more palatable in the morning. As the saying goes, the secret is in the sauce.
The Amazing Garbanzo Bean-Fresh Orange Salad Dressing
1 average size fresh orange, peeled and sections pulled apart.
1 cup of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed if using canned)
1/4 cup plant based milk (unsweetened and minimal ingredients)
1 tsp of rice or apple cider vinegar
a dash or to taste of any of the following
dried crushed red pepper
Simply process in a high power blender until smooth. Store in airtight container. Can stay in fridge for a few days without issue. Shake before using.
For the dressing you can get creative and use other fruits as well or instead.
For the Breakfast Salad itself, for the cereal layer, I use the recommendations of Dr. Esselstyn and stick with Ezekiel or Grape Nuts. Whatever you use, read the package. Keep it minimally processed and as few ingredients as possible. No added sugar or oil.
For the salad shown, I used spinach, fresh cauliflower, snow peas, celery, carrots, mushrooms and fresh sliced strawberries. Blue berries or sliced apples are great too with it. If you use apple, consider adding some cinnamon to the top.
It’s amazing how it doesn’t weigh a person down, and that fiber keeps you full all morning and with nice steady energy that can help keep you focus.
How lucky for me that I puked my guts out. When I ended up in the hospital, deathly ill after over two days consuming a fish sandwich and I turkey sandwich Easter weekend 2018, I never thought of myself as lucky. Really though it gave me a good opportunity to walk away from meat, dairy and eggs and never look back.
Top row of picture were taken that weekend when I got so sick from meat. Bottom row taken several months later, still animal product free.
In hospital bed Easter 2018
3/18 Size 24
Me November 2018
Had it not been for the taste and smell of those products repulsing me, I would have had a harder time giving it all up. I’ve watched my husband long for an Arby’s Roast Beef and pepperoni pizza dripping with thick slabs of cheese. He had a harder time, but he managed. I could see it was a thought process for him.
So much about our lives have been wrapped up around animal products.
What holiday or family event doesn’t have animal products as the centerpiece of the associated feast? I can’t think of any. Traditions, holidays, early childhood memories, all of that is very powerful.
So it’s a week before Christmas and you are trying to gain control of your health. With the guidance of your own doctor of course, you have chosen to eat whole food plant based which means all animal products, sugar and overly processed foods are banned.
Some people can go cold turkey in avoiding turkey and gravy over the holidays. They can even drive past a fast food drive thru and never get a burger, fish or chicken or even a taco with cheese. If they eat animal products it’s only because they didn’t know it was in the food they were served to eat (and yes that is going to happen especially at family gatherings).
Then there are people who genuinely feel giving up animal products is like pushing away the love of their lives or an dear friend. It’s anxiety provoking. The fear of living without animal products means for them that they break up with animal products in steps. I call this the process of Burger and Human Uncoupling.
Would Shakespeare have written verses about the despair and feeling pulled between lusting for cheese burgers and possibly deflating backed up lymphatics and staying alive an extra 10-30 years?
Ode To Animal Products: My Mind’s Tears I Weep For Thee
(spoken tenderly with great drama)
“Oh Cheese Burger, Pepperoni, Chicken and Eggs…
In my mouth you delight, but inflate my legs.”
” So Cheese is dairy, so is yogurt and Butter.
I loved you before, but now must love another.”
“Endothelium, walls of arteries and veins you line.
So no animal products I eat or carbs refined. “
It’s only slightly an overstatement to say that for many to give up that relationship with animal products is very imposing..
So let’s be reasonable. So much of this is mental. You have to have courage to turn away from all meat, dairy and eggs as well as processed foods. While it is for health sake better to just cut off all animal products, it may not be in the long run productive. You may be one of the people who may give up for good the first time you cave. So if you must, take steps to prepare yourself to gain that needed confidence that you can live without animal products. Start introducing what others call “transition foods”. These are foods that can give you a sense of having some of the textures and tastes you are in the habit of eating, without them actually being animal products.
Vegan food has come a long way. Please note that I use the term Vegan food instead of Whole Food Plant Based. Processed vegan foods many times are not that healthy. I would never suggest eating processed vegan foods on a regular basis over time but there is no crime in using them initially on occasion. Will they make you blow up like a balloon if you have soy and or sodium sensitivities? Maybe. before going 100% without meat dairy and eggs or not, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it not to eat soy filled and high sodium foods. Read the labels and weigh it all out.
Another way to approach it all is if you cease eating one product at a time and adjusting to that before removing the next product that is ok too. And like I’ve pointed out throughout this piece, eating processed vegan food at times in the start, is fine too as long as you keep your eyes open to it temporarily making symptoms for things like lipedema, lymphedema and other disorders worse.
And even once you make the clean break from animal products, don’t be stunned if you still feel the need for a burger sometimes or cheese. It’s ok to ocassionally indulge in a Beyond Meat Burger (sold in many stores and some restaurants) or Impossible Burger (served at White Castle, and some restaurants and coming to stores in 2019). There are also several other brands of non animal product burgers you can indulge in.
Just make sure that the majority of the time, you are eating actual fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh greens, unprocessed grains, fresh or dried beans, peas, lentils, and a few unsalted nuts here and there. Some flax or chia seed for good measure, and take a good B-12 suppliment. Have some blood work done to see if you are lacking in anything else.
I am just going to drive this point home one last time… better to eat whole foods that are plant based, without added oils, sugar or processed ingredients. Try for example, bean burgers or use lentils in place of ground beef in sloppy joes. They are better for you than the mass produced, pre-prepared vegan burgers and so on. Let me tell you, it can be pretty tasty.
Need a chance to wrap your brain around the notion of no animal products? Here are some suggestions.
Eating Whole Food Plant Based, it’s important to find a variety of exciting ways to prepare foods such a sweet potatoes. I’ve put them with black beans in veggie burgers, on pizza along with bits of beets. Delicious. I’ve eaten them the old fashion way, baked with some cinnamon on them.
I was ready for some new ideas for easy preparation and twists in the taste.
Right now Sweet Potatoes are the Sweethearts of the supermarket, with places such as my own local Aldi selling bags of fresh sweet potatoes for 99 cents a bag no better time to indulge. Trader Joes, Whole Foods and many other grocery store chains are selling more varieties of frozen and fresh sweet potato products, everything from frozen puffs, sweet potato fries, multi colored cubes, soups, sweet potato noodles both thin and windy and wide and flat, spaghetti sauces, easy to microwave, fresh, organic and canned of course. Even more reason to experiment.
So I purchased one bag of fresh cubed sweet potatoes from Trader Joes to see what I could do with it.
As a child I taught myself to cook through 4-H and a simple Better Homes and Gardens Children’s Cookbook. That cookbook included a recipe for orange juice marinated sweet potatoes that included brown sugar and it was syrupy and overly sweet. So I decided to give it a healthy make over.
I had a bottle of organic 100% pure carrot-orange juice I wanted to use. I had plenty of cinnamon on hand as well as organic ginger, light agave nectar, turmeric and so on to play with. Cranked out three ideas and I am more than pleased with the outcome.
Step One: Using a large skillet or wok, place the full contents of the Trader Joes Fresh Sweet Potato Cubes in the skillet or wok. Add two cups carrot orange juice, cinnamon and ginger to taste, and if desired 2 TBL light agave nectar. Stirring frequently over medium heat, let the liquid reduce to a sauce and the cubes partially cook.
Step Two: Line a shallow baking dish with parchment paper or allow the smallest amount of fat based product such as Miyoko’s Kitchen Vegan Butter to grease the dish (you should never do this on a regular basis. It’s not healthy for your arteries). Pour the cubes and reduced sauce in the dish.
Step Three: If desired sprinkle cinnamon on the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Potatoes should be cooked thoroughly without being overly mushy. Each cube should keep it’s shape but be cooked through.
Idea One: A Lovely Side Dish
Idea Two: Add New Dimension And Increase Nutrition to Chili. Sweet And Savory Chili.
Low Sodium Tomato Juice base, dried black beans cooked per directions on bag, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, low sodium chili powder, turmeric, half a bottle of 100% pure organic carrot orange juice.
Idea Three: Pureed w/ a half cup of carrot orange juice, a cup of non sweetened high protein nut milk, turmeric and garnish.
In the past I’ve shared what the loss of weight through a plant-based diet has meant for my physical size. What I want to show you today is how such eating impacts the obvious issues associated with lipedema and Dercum’s disease.
It’s estimated that 11% of women have lipedema (estrogen plays a role so it is mainly women who suffer from this). Dercum’s Disease is very rare, but it is impacted by the ongoing swelling of lipedema. Both of these disorders puts considerable swelling and large amounts of non-calorie based weight on people. For someone with Dercum’s Disease it gets dicey because there are so few treatments and so patients end up trying whatever is suggested by the few doctors who work with dercum’s disease.
Before going to a plant-based whole food diet with no added sugars or oils that is low glycemic index, I use to put on 10-14 pounds in a day from lymphatic fluid swelling all parts of my body especially if I over-extended myself. By next morning it may or may not be back to where it was. Since starting the whole foods plant-based diet, a few months ago, unless there are other health issues going on, I put on only 4 pounds in a day. By next day it usually has gone away. I’ve lost 62 of those disorder related pounds in a few months.
Below, the unfortunate hairstyle in the first two photos is compliments of the wig I was forced to wear in the months following an unfortunate treatment for Dercum’s Disease. My hair started to fall out in chunks.An infusion of ketamine that took a couple of days time in an ICU unit to administer. Only in the name of helping others do I share those photos. LOL.
Please note that the first photo was taken in the morning. The second photo was taken later that day at a family gathering. Notice how swollen I am in the second photo especially. Even the wig is being stretched beyond it’s capacity.
Taken in 2016 whle following typical protocols for Lipedema and Dercum’s Disease.
After a few months of Whole Food Plant Based no oil or added sugar.
My face much more swlollen than the beginning of the day but I’m a happy girl.. Mission Accomplished and I loved the summit.
Now see the last two photos taken just after 4 months of plant-based eating. The third photo was taken early that morning. The last photo is of me later in the day. The swelling is easy to spot. but it’ not as prominent as the level of swelling that happened in the second photo.
Not bad or a 55 year old woman who literally just wants to be comfortable in her skin.
I just did away with animal products and kept it low fat, low glycemic index. No processed foods. I eat a bigger variety of foods now than I did when I ate animal products. Influenced by Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T Colin Campbell, and their extensive research spanning decades, I quickly found success. Anyone can go to the library and find their books or look their work up online.
With 11% of women suffering from lipedema, yet few doctors having studied it, many are desperate to find a way to curb the impact of this frustrating disorder. They go through painful expensive surgeries where the problem eventually comes back. They try all sorts of treatments such as horrendously expensive lymphatic presses that take a great deal of time to work with daily, and expensive compression garments that cover their bodies that have to be worn year around including in the hottest of summers.
Dercum’s Disease has been too painful for me to continue with those standard treatments. And as the bad wig photos demonstrate, the experimental treatments suggested by the doctors were a bust.
This style of plant-based eating while it obviously hasn’t kept me completely from being in pain or swelling up, it has been overall a successful treatment in curbing the effects of lipedema and such. It is without a doubt the best arsenal I have ever had against the common but oddball lipedema. That puts less pressure on the effects of the Dercum’s disease.
Oh yea, and it reversed my diabetes and normalized my blood pressure and cholesterol.
In our household. we take care of eachother. Doesn’t matter who the caregiver or the one needing taken care of is. We look out for eachother. Hey we are a family of adults making it work!
Anyone with a severe chronic illness or the caregiver of someone who is chronically ill, knows that self care is both a must and many times the hardest to provide oneself.
There isn’t anything more basic in self-care than good solid nutrition. The less hassle the better too. The less hassle. the more likely it’s going to happen. The less hassle, the kinder you are being towards whoever is responsible for making it happen.
When dealing with chronic illness, it can be our biggest weapon to ease our suffering and even in some cases reverse the chronic Illness. Good nutrition can help slow down some chronic condition’s advancement and prevent new ones from taking hold. It can allow our medications a chance to work better, or if lucky, it can replace the need for prescription medications all together.
Living off store bought frozen entrees with less than healthy ingredients like high sodium, animal products and non whole foods, for me would never help. Fast food will make most people’s health more complicated. So the sooner any of us in these sorts of shoes can figure this out for ourselves, the better.
With Dercum’s Disease, Fibromyalgia,and Lymphedema, Lipedema and Diabetes and low grade start to coronary disease, it has come down to me to figure this out. How to eat to not make things worse. What can be healthy to eat, inexpensive, and easy enough to prepare that my husband can manage along with all his other responsibilities. If it can be easy enough for me on a good day to prepare and toss individual servings in the freezer, that’s great too.
This week I am recovering from the Plant-Based Nutrition Summit last Saturday, and one grocery run on Monday. (Dercum’s Disease is like that, overdo it and you are down for the count. It doesn’t take much). Even a motorized scooter couldn’t save me from being a pain filled zombie on Sunday, part of Monday, and bed bound on Sunday and part of Tuesday and all day Wednesday through Thursday morning.
Yet unlike the past when this would start to happen, I’m not eating greasy cheeseburgers my husband is bringing home, or processed foods on white bread, or even sodium filled frozen entrees. We aren’t going broke from food either.
Now that we are established in a plant-based diet as a household, we have kept it easy to manage and afford.
The easy sandwich/pesto recipe:
Aldi sells frozen peas 79 cents a bag. Trader Joe sells Miyoko Vegan Crème cheese $5.50 a container. Broccoli is cheap everywhere fresh or riced.
in a freezer bag, we combine frozen peas and riced broccoli (or riced cauliflower). Keep it in the freezer. Defrost half per batch you are making. Place in food processor or high power blender, can be somewhat lumpy. In a bowl, stir in garlic, onion chopped or onion powder, some crushed red pepper if desired, and 2 Tbl of either Miyoko Vegan Cream cheese or no-oil hummus.
It will keep for a few days in the fridge and makes a great sandwich spread, or on whole grain toast in the morning for breakfast. Very good as a type of stir in for whole grain pasta. You can add basil and oregano and lime juice to liven it up. Put cucumbers on top of it or tomato. Add some shredded carrot to it.
Or forget the grain pasta and use a peeler or veggie noodle maker and stir it into veggie noodles for a 100% vegetable dish.
You Can’t Go Wrong With A Great Salad
Never underestimate the power of a good salad. Never over estimate how much it cost to eat salad. These days even Aldi can keep you fresh organic greens and other produce for very little money.
I try to follow the daily dozen rules of Dr. Michael Greger to keep my nutrition well rounded. Gone are the days of ice berg lettuce being sufficient. Now it’s 2 servings of greens a day along with a serving of cruciferous vegetables and two serving of “other vegetables” that are low glycemic index. Also I need to get two servings of fruit and a serving of berries. In addition to all that, three servings of beans/peas and three whole grain servings. One serving of seeds and nuts and I’m also suppose to have flax seeds once a day.
If I know I’m going to be down for the count in bed for several days possibly, I direct my husband or try to plan myself to throw together salads that will incorporate a little of everything to make a salad. Dark greens, riced cruciferous veggies of some type, brown rice or barley, well rinsed and drained black beans, sliced cucumbers and shredded carrots. I’ll put fresh fruit around the sides such as something easy to rinse and use like fresh blueberries and easy to peel like orange sections. Then just some lemon or lime juice.
Black Bean Burgers Too
The sandwich spread mentioned above and one or two varieties of salads that are kept on hand and prepared, can keep well rounded nutrition within easy reach. I also keep black bean burgers in the freezer that we make. There are many recipes online and in plant-based cook books. Here is one of my favorites
Roast a head of cauliflower in the oven and slice it when it’s cooled. Very easy to keep for a few days and eat from as needed. It freezes well too.
No Cook Over Night Oats
Overnight Oats are wonderful too. I’m not talking about the Overnight Oats you see on the grocery shelves. This is like a breakfast oatmeal and fruit custard without eggs though. No cooking involved either. You can find the recipe online by looking it up, but basically, it’s one part old fashioned oats and two parts non dairy milk of your choice, and a tablespoon or two of chia seeds stirred in. Oh and also you can put in the fruit of your choice, any amount you want.
I like using a one cup storage container to make it in and eat it from to keep the portions reasonable. I use berries, but apple slices are good too with some cinnamon mixed in. I tend to use more fruit than oats. So the oats and non dairy milk are a sideline, but that is just my preference. The chia seeds make a gel that helps to solidify the entire dish into pudding sort of combo, if you will.
The gelling process happens as it sits airtight/covered in the fridge overnight. When you get up, it’s ready to eat.
You can make a few of these overnight oats up at one time and eat off of them for a few days for breakfast. Adding nuts or sliced banana is good too.
Nothing wrong with some herbal tea, but you will find that eating this way will replace your need for caffeinated coffee. Your mind may become better focused and you will know you are doing all you can for yourself and those you care about.
Well nourished people are healthier and more content in life. Take care of eachother and help it happen.
So how goes it in your life? Did you have a good weekend?
Saturday, I got out of bed with one set of measurements, and came home later that day with a larger body. No I didn’t don a fat suit at the end of the day. It’s just another day in the life of someone with Dercum’s Disease, Lipedema and Lymphedema. Before taking on a Whole Food-Plant-Based Diet it use to be far worse. No complaints from me. In the end I still reached the lost 62 pounds mark.
I don’t get out much. Swelling up that bad is the price to pay for just walking out my front door to do literally anything. It’s painful. Saturday I was just too enthralled with the line up at our local Plant-Based Nutrition Summit to not attend the all day event. I would get around by way of motorized mobility scooter and figured if it got bad, I would leave early.
The St. Louis Plant-Based Nutrition Summit held at Washington University on Saturday, July 14th, 2018 was sold out and a very happening event. This was no small venue, it was huge with people coming from all over the place to hear some of the brightest and most revered minds in nutritional, science. I saw it as a chance to not only learn but to also share with others when appropriate, about the oddball disorders lipedema, Dercum’s Disease and Lymphedema.
All three disorders can add non-calorie based weight gain. Lipedema, 11% of women have it and it makes them look bottom heavy and the weight just can’t be lost easily through traditional dieting. Dercum’s Disease Disorder is also stubborn when it comes to losing weight. Additionally, Dercum’s Disease is associated with a long list of other health issues that can shorten your life. Things such as diabetes and cardiac issues. Because it’s so rare, most doctors know very little, if anything about it. Yet Diabetes and Heart Disease would be explored at the Summit. So I brought some awareness business cards with me and my before and after losing 50 pounds shots, and a one sheet explanation.
So I figured while I got a couple books signed, I would thank the doctors and slide to them some information on it all regarding the disorders themselves and how in my case the positive impact this way of eating has had.
Well I later swelled up big because of the disorders. The pain got worse and the lumps (Dercum’s Tumors) got big enough to be seen from a few feet away..
As much as I wanted and needed to go home and get to bed I chose to stay. These doctors may not have heard of some of these disorders. If they had heard of any of them, they may not know that Whole Food Plant Based eating did the unimaginable, it helped some of my symptoms that I was told to give up on.
So I stuck it out on my mobility scooter and was first person in line for the book signing. The book signing was at the very end of the day.
Dr. Michael Greger was pleasant from start to finish, as was Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. I shared with them the information I brought with me.
Dr. Greger also made the point of saying that it was important for me to make sure those similar to myself know that eating like this has in my case, had a positive impact on some of the symptoms.
I went home and got in bed and stayed in bed through all day Sunday. My husband was fantastic serving me food in bed. Roasted brussel sprouts and brown rice with watermelon were delicious!
My body slowly on Sunday deflated. I stepped on the scale and since a week ago, another 8 pounds lost. 62 pounds gone now. 40 more to go.
It’s been a great weekend. I highly recommend all books written and any public appearances made by Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. If there is a documentary they are in, watch it.